Jun 212014

Sun Tea

Sun Brewed Iced Tea


  • 3 to 4 teabags
  • 1-quart water
  • 1-quart wide mouth canning jar & lid
  • 1 to 4 tablespoons sugar, optional
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons to 1-tablespoon lemon juice, optional


Fill a quart jar with water. Add the teabags. Screw on the lid and set the jar in the sun. Allow the tea to brew for 3 to 4 hours. Remove the teabags. Add the sugar and lemon juice if desired. I prefer unsweetened tea, so I just use lemon. Screw on the lid and shake briskly until the sugar dissolves. Serve over tall glasses of ice.

Makes 1-quart or 2 servings; 2-cups each.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezie.

There is some talk about Sun Tea being unsafe because the water doesn’t boil so any bacteria hiding out in the teabags reproduces in the warmth of the sun. I’ve been drinking sun tea since the 1970’s and never had a problem with it. However, if you are concerned about the safety of Sun Tea, then stick to brewed tea instead. If your tea becomes thick, cloudy or syrupy, or if you see whispy strings in it then toss it out. These are all evidence of bacterial activity.

I have tried to make Sun Tea in apple juice jars and always had trouble cleaning the jars afterwards. Now I use wide-mouthed canning jars and they are delightfully easy to wash. When I need more than 1-quart of tea, I use extra canning jars as necessary.

Since this tea brews in the sun instead of on the stove, it’s the most eco-friendly and the least expensive.

Assuming 1-tablespoon sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice. Without the sugar, it’s a free food.

Per 2-cup serving : 33 Calories; trace Fat (0.3% calories from fat); trace Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 5mg Sodium.

Exchanges:1/2 Other Carbohydrates. (Assuming 1-tablespoon sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice.)

Jun 202014

Brewed Iced Tea


I’ll be honest, I usually use the cheapest teabags I can find. I’ve heard that cheap tea doesn’t taste as good as better quality tea. I agree with this statement. However, if you are adding sugar to your tea, the quality of the tea itself becomes far less noticeable. If you prefer unsweetened tea, the quality of your tea may be more important.

I admit to buying 8-ounce boxes of loose tea now and then, when I find them on sale, and I have to say, that when unsweetened,  it tastes a far sight better than the cheap teabags I normally buy. Loose tea doesn’t seem to turn bitter, even when I over-brew it, because I’ve forgotten it in the kitchen while I’m busy overseeing a complicated science experiment.

Good quality, loose tea is sometimes on sale. Ounce for ounce it costs only slightly more than the cheapest teabags. The brand I find most often in supermarkets is Lipton Loose Tea. If you want the best quality for the best price, then loose tea is a good bargain. If you prefer the most savings and the most convenience, and especially if you prefer sweet tea, then the cheapest tea bags are fine.

Another admission, I’ve switched up the way I make tea over time. I used to brew it for 10 minutes. Then for a while I brewed it for 20 to 30 minutes. When made with cheap teabags, brewing tea for this long made it bitter. Then I tried brewing my tea for 5 to 7 minutes. It wasn’t as strong as I like, so it needed more teabags. This avoided the bitterness sometimes present in cheap tea, but it cost more. What I’ve come back to is the 10 minute brew.

With loose tea or the cheapest teabags ($1.29 for 100 teabags is the lowest price tea I can find), 10 minutes of brewing seems to be the best compromise between economy and quality. I always add lemon juice to my tea. A small amount of lemon juice adds a certain sparkle to plain tea, or even sweetened tea, that plain tea simply doesn’t have by itself. For a gallon of tea, 2-tablespoons of lemon juice isn’t really noticeable to the flavor, but it does make the tea taste fresher and better. I’m not sure how it works, I just know it does. If you prefer a stronger lemon flavor (like me) simply add more lemon juice to taste. I prefer to make tea  a gallon at a time, but you can make more or less as you prefer. The recipe divides or halves very easily.

Perfect Iced Tea


  • 12 teabags, or 2-tablespoons loose tea in a large tea-ball
  • Water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, optional
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice


Fill a 2-quart saucepan halfway with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. When the water boils turn off the stove but leave the pot on the hot burner. Place the teabags or the tea-ball  in the boiling water. Allow the water to steep for 10 minutes, no more, no less.  After steeping remove the teabags and toss them out. They’ve served their purpose and can be tossed without a modicum of guilt. If you compost then cut open the tea bags so they will decompose more quickly.

While the tea is steeping, fill a gallon-sized pitcher half full of water. You do this to buffer the hot tea. The tea is hot when it’s done steeping. If you pour very hot tea into a plastic pitcher it may melt. To avoid this possibility half-fill the pitcher with cool water before adding the tea. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the half-filled pitcher if desired. Stir until the sugar dissolves. When the tea is finished brewing pour it into the pitcher. It will be hot so be careful not to burn yourself.

Add enough water to fill the pitcher full. Stir briefly to blend. Chill until needed. Tastes best served cold.

If you prefer very sweet tea then use up to 1-cup of sugar per gallon of tea. To me it’s overkill but there are plenty of good decent folks who disagree with me, so I reckon it’s not for me to judge. When I make tea just for myself I don’t add any sweetener at all. Unsweetened with lemon is my favorite.

Makes 1-gallon or 8-servings; 2-cups each.

Per 2-cup serving: 33 Calories; trace Fat (0.3% calories from fat); trace Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 5mg Sodium.

Exchanges: 1/2 Other Carbohydrates. (Assuming 12-teabags, 1/4-cup sugar and 2-tablespoons lemon juice.)


  • Green Tea and Herbal Tea can be brewed just like black tea.
  • Add herbal teabags to black tea for extra flavor, or  mix and match to make favorite combinations.
  • Green tea is especially good with both lemon and sugar.
  • To make Mint Tea prepare a gallon of tea using 12 teabags. Add an extra 4 bags of herbal mint tea. Brew as directed. You can omit any lemon juice or retain it to make Lemon Mint Tea. I prefer this version sweetened with 1/2-cup sugar to a gallon of tea.
Jun 202014

Iced Tea

Instant Iced Tea

  • 1/2 cup instant tea
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness you prefer, optional
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice, optional

Fill a gallon-sized pitcher half full of water. Add the tea, plus the sugar and lemon juice if you’re using them. Using a long spoon or spatula stir until the sugar and tea dissolve completely. Add enough  additional water to fill the pitcher. Chill until needed. Serve over ice.

Makes 1-gallon or 8-servings; 2-cups each.

This is strong tea, meant to served over ice that will melt  and dilute it perfectly. If you prefer tea that’s not quite so strong then use 1/3-cup of instant tea per gallon of water.

I usually use the smaller amount of sugar as a compromise between my preferred—unsweetened—and my family’s favorite—sweet tea. If you like your tea really sweet then use up to a full cup of sugar to sweeten a gallon of tea.

My local supermarket (Kroger) sells instant tea in their lowest price discount brand. This makes it very affordable, only slightly more expensive than teabags. Instant tea is much faster and easier to make in a rush than brewed iced tea and tastes almost as good, especially if you prefer very sweet tea. Of course, you may use your favorite low calorie sweetener in place of the sugar called for above, if you like.

Per 2-cup serving: 30 Calories; 0g Fat; trace Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 3mg Sodium.

Exchanges: 1/2 Other Carbohydrates. (Assuming 1/4-cup sugar and 2-tablespoons lemon juice.)

Jun 202014

Iced Fruit Tea

If you’re trying to avoid sugar this is a great choice. In this recipe I usually use apple juice concentrate, but have tried other flavors. I like white grape juice and raspberry juice concentrate, although they each cost twice as much as the lowest priced apple juice concentrate. Apple juice blends very nicely with iced tea, flavor wise. If you’re looking for an affordable, all natural beverage, this one is at the top of the list.

All Natural Instant Fruit Tea


  • 1/3 cup instant tea
  • 12 ounce can frozen apple juice concentrate
  • Water to make 1-gallon


Fill a gallon-sized pitcher with water. Add the tea, apple juice concentrate and enough water to make a gallon of liquid. Mix well. Serve over ice. This is very refreshing and makes a nice change from plain tea. It’s always very popular at potlucks and picnics. Apple juice concentrate is the least expensive, but other flavors are tasty too.

Makes 1-gallon or 8-servings: 2-cups each.

Per Serving : 71 Calories; trace Fat (2.0% calories from fat); trace Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 11mg Sodium.

Exchanges: 1 Fruit.

Note: To prepare this with brewed tea, simply combine 2-quarts of strong home-brewed tea with 1-1/2 quarts of prepared apple juice (from a 12-ounce can of concentrate). You can add enough extra water to make a gallon (2-cups) , or not, as you see fit. This is a bit more work that instant, but it still works well and tastes very good.

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